The Job Hunt. Part V.


Borrowed from TheMuse.Com, Article and Questions written by Alyse Kalish. Answer’s written by Peggy Davenport. (I likely won’t ever be hired after this. Dry humor doesn’t always work.)

Crazy Interview Questions from Big Companies

13 Crazy Interview Questions That Awesome Companies Will Actually Ask You

You may have answered the typical “Why do you want this job?” question in an interview so many times that you have your perfect answer memorized. But what do you do if a company throws you a curveball? And say that curveball is something like, “Have you ever stolen a pen from work?”

Yes, this question—along with many more seemingly random ones—is completely possible when interviewing at top companies. In fact, we dug through the internet and found lots of examples from pretty well-known places such as Google, Apple, and Facebook.

And here’s the thing you should know before you dig into this: Most strange or tough questions are actually asked for a very valid reason, even if it feels ridiculous (or terrifying) in the moment.

In an article on how to answer these off-the-wall interview questions, Career expert Lily Zhang says, “Your interviewer isn’t necessarily looking for a right answer. He wants to determine how quickly you can think on your feet, how you’ll approach a difficult situation, and, most importantly, whether you can remain positive and proactive and make progress in the face of a challenge.”

While we can’t tell you exactly what a hiring manager will ask, running through this list and thinking of how you would answer will get your brain working in the right direction. That is, if these questions don’t make it explode first.

1. Facebook

“25 racehorses, no stopwatch. 5 tracks. Figure out the top three fastest horses in the fewest number of races.”

I hate riddles. Riddles don’t make a smarter person. My mind it too literal for riddles (you woudn’t think so as a writer) so before googling. My own background on horse racing steps in “Every fastest horse in one race can be the slowest in another” So the taking of 25, breaking them into five races and then running the three fastest winners against each other in 2nd for them, 6th race in all is where the odd’s will be betted on but I figure this is not the case and so I googled.

However in this for employee’s and companies I could say that it is a good way, in my own first response, to say that who may be good one one skill is not good at another, however put with a team, their skill can still be incredibly valid.

But I googled. And thankfully I am far from the only who has pondered this. There are forums and question board’s and much more asking and attempting to solve this riddle. I for one, personally am not a riddle fan to begin with and so great new employer possibility, throw me a riddle and I seriously may give you the look of “you are an idiot if you think that riddles make anybody a smarter faster thinker.” I am too literal for that. Simply put I don’t do well with them. Many people do not.

I found a lot of people struggling and coming up with ways to answer this, many being Phd’s and other well-educated people (after thinning out the non, who’s answers often weren’t far off)..all of which though seemed to add on more races rather than eliminating races as the riddle asks “Fewest number of races”. So in my own come out I come to thinking my mind around it having five tracks, so taking this as five actual separate tracks there would be five race winners…”no stopwatch” doesn’t allow to figure out who out of the five are the fastest three by time. If the tracks are straight and not the usual race oval then perhaps all five races are run at the same time, thus easily choosing the fastest by the top three winners of each track which can be seen and not timed with a stopwatch. In the work world this would mean that visual results seen are the key. (I am very literal) So if you gave five separate teams the same project you would have the top three of a faster finished project to choose from.

If by track you mean the starting gate…each being separate but actually run on one track, then you have your first three horses to cross the finish line.

To add a 6th race between the winners of five races one must either A. Still have a stop watch to know who the fastest were in each first race or B. Run each of the five races at the same time to visually see the finished winners of the race. So the 6th race is out to begin with…as it add’s more and not fewest races and needs a stop watch or all at the same time…if all at the same time the answer is easiest with choosing the first three horses to cross the finish line. So far…and many pages of google I keep coming on this 6th race answer yet my own mind won’t wrap past the three reason’s this doesn’t work.

So it’s not a stopwatch. It’s not the timed fastest. It’s not separately run races and then adding on a 6th race among the winners. Process of Elimination. My first way around issues and solution finding. This is how my brain works.

Then I move onto, my equestrian and literal brain still here, the fact that 25 horses in 5 different races gives us 5 different winners…but not the fastest five horses. Only the fastest five in each of their groups. So run against each other or trading the horses into different groups may have very well had a different outcome. In the job world I can see this working as two particular co-workers not making the best team (not bad , just not the best for the company/project) but trade those two into other groups and likely they work perfectly with those team’s. Sometime’s knowing the right skill of the right person and fitting them with another of the fitting skill isn’t the only trick when dealing with human’s but also finding the right match of personalities, not at all the same type of, but the right one’s that match each other to work together best.

Maybe I am too literal.

So I turn to google…and read how others laid out this one. I keep finding that again, pages of answers on google, keep adding a 6th race above anything else. I keep coming back to “but it says fewer races” And think that maybe…just maybe, I need to change my own thinking…and I read on. One answer wants to grid the numbers and then eliminate two by what they choose are the “last two race horses” going slowest horses on the right. But …how do you choose that because you say the grid goes fastest to slowest left to right mean those two eliminated horses are the slowest? This one didn’t suit me. It also says ” now we know that x1 is the fastest because he’s the fastest of all 5 groups” but…five different groups/races…5 different winners….no stopwatch. All come to mind. Then through out this one goes onto a point of elimination to five horses…but not the five winning horses…so….wait a minute? No. If you read back over this one it eliminates “ok so now we eliminate this one and this one” but the reasoning behind just don’t make sense. And going on with these last five chosen there is now another race…a seventh in fact…so…fewer races…again… It ends completely with ” it takes seven races to find our top three horses in this problem.” But I don’t agree.

I also come to “Is that really the shit ass easy way answer?” Because simply if you run 5 races, take the 5 winners of each, race them in one race against each other then your fastest three are the first 3 of that 5 horse race… six races. Need there be more But everyone else comes up with a seventh race. Why? You end up doing the same thing, ending in five horses on the 7th race and still coming up with the answer that the first 3 to come through the wire on the 7th race are the winners. So eliminate 1 race and bring it to 6 if that is the case.

I would still prefer to bring it back down to five races and no more than that. In my equestrian horse training back ground mind I simply call it 25 gates and 1 actual track, top 3 to come through the finish line are the fastest. Done in one race.

Now if the wording was “fewer” and not fewest” I would still go in this same direction…yes, you could say “fewer races” being fewer than 8 or 10 and going with that 6 or 7 answer but then you could take fewer to mean lass than the obvious five to begin with. However this particular article read’s the question as fewest and so I will get down to the bottom of absolute fewest and not just the easy answer “fewer than.”

I asked a friend of mine, a horse trainer what his answer was as well as a jockey what hers was. Both said about the same…run it in one race, five gate’s , one track and choose the first 3 to come through the finish. Fastest and yes, both agreed with me on my idea’s and ways about it…especially laughing with the not every fastest in one race is the fastest in the next…thus eliminating in our minds that the chosen of 5 races would be the fastest in the 6th race…in fact in that case your first winners of your 5, then the first of your sixth could end up being the last of your 7th. There are a lot of answers on google that come to races 7 and 8.

And all three of us easily said how we wouldn’t need a stopwatch if the case…a race has a furlong, we have counting in our heads, we would count out the time in our minds and know what horse ran what time…no stopwatch needed for a couple of old seasoned horse people. In fact, as my jockey put it, they don’t hold the stopwatch but usually know the time in their head or if their horse ran faster in a mile than their last run. My trainer friend stated “sometimes the easiest way is counting on your fingers, if it gets the job done, do it.” Not actually meaning his fingers but most definitely meaning the count in his mind.

So…I google…and of course what I have found is spoken of above in many cases. Still…pages in, have not found one solid answer , by process of elimination of answers and choosing the “Strongest most come to answer” I will come to seven races. So eliminating that thought….I myself go back to the most races being 6…5 winners of 5 races then the first three of the 6th race. But…I still prefer a number less than 6….

And by now my interviewer hate’s me and regrets having asked, the look has glazed over and they are so completely lost as I ramble…twenty minutes later.

And I still come up with anywhere from 6 to 8 races and plenty of read arguments and formula’s.

Mostly everyone eliminates down 5 top from the first race won…then against each other and then top out of those and again and they still say first and second are the fastest…so a second in horse can still be the fastest. Now if that is the case I go back to the top 5in one race…the first 3 across the finish line are the fastest, thus 6 races. Going based on the stopwatch ability in our head’s we would only have the first five races as we would know the about time of the top 5 horses and then take the fastest time of them down to the 3.

I kinda hate you for your riddle, Facebook. My interviewer will hate you more for getting my answer.

2. Google

“Why are manhole covers round?”

My initial answer is something to do with playing frisby or teenage mutant ninja turtles but I digress…

3. Apple

“If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?”

Hmm, I would say that is has something to do with the receipt and coupons. If they are wearing a tie then doing a comedic skit…but it never goes like it does in the comedies…I’d say if they had that swooping over the eye hair style I could fix it for them…and hey maybe I would have a side job as a stylist on the spot…we come to you!

4. Amazon

“How would you solve problems if you were from Mars?”

Amazon I hate you. I mean…the same way I do now. Simply. Me being from Mars can’t make me different in any way shape or form that we know of (other than not actually existing at all as we can possibly tell.) Why waste time and energy on this? Why not give us an example of a past project assignment and hand it to us knowing already how you chose to go through with it before but see what we would do with it. An on the spot “What would you do with this assignment in the next ten minutes” would be much more productive of you. Thus understanding how we would actually maybe work for you, think for you, act for you and this would show productivity, determination, work ethic and skills put to use. Look…don’t waste my time and I won’t waste yours.

5. Microsoft

“How would you test an elevator?”

Microsoft, I would send my ex in and push the button.

Wait…no job?

6. Uber

“How would you find the words that became obsolete in English language between 16th and 17th century? You may use a search engine.”

For many words these days this has been a topic so if using a search engine is allowable I would enter in “obsolete words from the 16th and 17th century.” But my natural way would be through reading books from those centuries and knowing what isn’t in our dictionary now. Make friends with a historian and a librarian for those phone a friend moment’s.

7. Trader Joe’s

“What do you think of garden gnomes?”


8. Living Social

“What’s your favorite song? Perform it for us now.”

Green eye’s from Coldplay. Ok. (doesn’t get the job after they hear me sing)

9. Urban Outfitters

“You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?”

If the color orange didn’t already exist in the box than I would say orange, because it is te color of growth and new opportunity and is pleasing to the eye, eye catching and upbeat, exciting and go-getting as well as crisp, clean and cool and warm at the same time. Comforting but not relaxing. If I had to make a new color with a new name I have no idea. However I go back to my answer for Amazon on this one.

10. American Heart Association

“What’s the color of money?”

Green. But in a doctor’s case, red. Like blood. In a builder’s case color’s of steal and brick and morter. In a writer’s case, black on white.


“How would you direct someone else on how to cook an omelet?”

Crack the eggs on the edge of the counter and break into the bowl. Be sure of no shell. Wisk in bowl with some milk or cream as the pan is heated with butter melting, then pour into pan and DO NOT touch…let the egg sit…be patient. I would go on with this but I ruin omolettes everytime and end up adding a lot of things, not being able to get the fold just right and the end result is an omolete scramble rather than something Martha Stewart would produce….Maybe I will suggest they watch a youtube video.

12. Kraft Foods

“On a scale from 1 to 10, rate me as an interviewer.”

If you’ve asked me all of the above question’s, a 1 being a word I should not call whom I am trying to get a job from. Then 1. Answer that first one yourself and we might raise the number a bit.

13. MasterCard

“Can you say ‘Peter Pepper Picked a Pickled Pepper’ and cross-sell a washing machine at the same time?”

If I looked and sounded like an idiot. Gave an indirect sales pitch and confused the customers rather than gave some solid straight forward information in a great voice, showcasing and pointing as we go and showing the best features, asking them about their life style to find what works best for them. Pet’s, kids, big loads needed? No? single, live in a small loft? Ok! We’ve got you covered with a variety to chosoe from!

So yeah, basically everything’s on the table when it comes to job interviews. You’ve been warned.

Now tell me on Twitter, what’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?

Career Guidance

About The Author of the article and question’s;

Alyse is a blogger, freelance writer, and creative writing major at Colgate University. Her love for reading and writing has brought her all over, from tutoring locals in Italy to studying abroad in London. At school, she is a Writing and Speaking Center consultant, choreographer for two dance clubs, and Admissions illustrator.

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